Phone calls on Saturday or Sunday mornings are normally about Mass times. This Sunday I had a phone call asking, “Where is there Mass at midday in Brighton?” I replied, “There is one here at 12.30, it is in Polish”. The response, “Is there one in Vietnamese? If not we can do English but not Polish”.
Language is of course the great divider, I would have got, I suspect a similar response if I said Mass was in Latin. It is amazing to think most of the world was evangelised when the Church used sacral Latin.
Brighton is a veritable Babel of different languages, Polish amongst the Catholic community is certainly in the majority, and the Polish bishops ensure that for Poles there is a good system of chaplains, having a separate Mass perhaps makes it difficult for the children of Poles who are more comfortable with English to integrate, especially when the move from home. Until the last ten years Portuguese would have been the next biggest language group, there is as far as I know only one Portuguese speaking priest in the country, the result is that hardly any Portuguese seem to come to Mass, though when they return home they might well be devout.
Language for us is a problem, it is of its nature divisive, in the way it isn’t for Islam whose ‘liturgy’ is in classical Arabic, it is of course the sermon that becomes the problem for them as it was for us.
Though we say Latin in the past was the great unifier of Western Catholicism, until just before the Council silence in the liturgy amidst coughs and shuffling of the congregation was the norm, because of course microphones on the altar were forbidden, 'amplification' on the sanctuary was done by the clergy singing, this didn't happen at low Mass which is what most people attended, so in point of fact most people were evangelised by encouraging a strong devotional life based as much on the domestic and school as it was on the parish or mission church. He was merely responsible for celebrating the sacrament properly, praying and possibly preaching a half good sermon and not much else, the Church survived and prospered.
As an addenda: I thought this from NLM was interesting, in the world of the Traditional though priests as a species were important, as individuals, at least in church, they were not that important, I remember a friend who left who said he couldn't cope 'with the weight, the responsibility'. He wasn't the type of priest who could "say the black and do the red".
The Novus Ordo Missae has horizontal and vertical dimensions, but what it lacks is precisely depth. The depth has to be brought to it from the outside — from the interior spirit of the celebrant, from the accidents of place and time, from the luck of options well-chosen and well-executed. As it stands, the modern liturgy does not supply that depth in and of itself. It is utterly at the mercy of the ars celebrandi, the community, the authorities, the prevailing mores of society. Even as contemporary society is living off of the fumes of traditional morality, so too the contemporary liturgy, to the extent that it is sanctifying of men and glorifying of God, is living off of the fumes of traditional liturgy.